Friday Sabbatical

For today’s Sabbatical, I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to breathe. Try to maintain focus on your breath as you let David Whyte’s poem in to sit with you:

SOMETIMES

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,

who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,

you come to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

Here are five things that stuck with me this week:

1. MiBiz wrote a profile on my exit from VNN (paywall), which is a bit meandering but does a pretty fair job of explaining the situation. From where I’m sitting the most interesting part is looking at how the quotes frame the differing perspectives of each involved party.

“It’s kind of like you finally get enough gold stars and then you realize you don’t care about gold stars anymore,” Vaughn said. “Most of my VNN career — and frankly my working life — I was chasing gold stars. I was trying to be all I could be and make a big impact and all that stuff.”

Truth. But it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Life is (has to be) about more than applause.

2. Wealth inequality is an issue in the US. You know that already. But I’ll bet you don’t appreciate to what degree.

This infographic sunk into a pit in my stomach and has stayed there since I first started scrolling. Scrolling for 30 minutes, hundreds of millions of dollars per scroll, I never reached the end of the top 400 Americans’ stacks and stacks and stacks. I literally got bored counting their money at 50-billion dollars per second.

My favorite part: I scrolled right over the $50,000,000 that your average hedge fund manager will make over his lifetime and didn’t see it. Deeply ironic, the dogmatic defense of the system coming from those who aren’t even a hair on the tip of a pimple on the ass cheek of the top 400 richest Americans.

3. Thus worked up about the unfairness of it all, it’s worth remembering that it’s all part of the same consciousness. You are not a separate being, navigating a world of separate beings and inanimate things. An NPC in the game of your life, you are simply the knowing of it all. The witness. The watcher.

“Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next, Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.  

Walt Whitman

Wealth inequality hurts, as does racism and plagues and the rest of it. But there is forever the opportunity to remember that it’s all yours in reality. And it’s all mine. And it’s all It. And then from that knowledge, we can work to eliminate suffering without risk of causing additional suffering in the process.

4. Our Meditation & Leadership groups have worked through the introductory courses on Waking Up and Headspace, and are now diving into deeper meditation content. Of all the guided meditations I’ve run across, the one that points out the non-dual nature of things the best (to my American mind) is The Headless Way, by Richard Lang (channeling Douglas Harding). I ran through it via the Waking Up app, but this video is a great long form version as well:

I’m grateful to have found so many helpful reminders on my walk back home.

5. Foundational to both Republican and Democratic philosophies is one key assumption on which they both agree, which if not challenged will kill us all.

This TED talk analyzes America’s (and the world’s) dogmatic belief that the key to fixing everything is a continuously, unceasingly growing economy. If it isn’t apparent already as the seven biblical plagues descend upon us, anything that grows unceasingly in any natural system risks harming the rest of the system (think of telling a doctor that you have a “growth.” Not good). It then proposes a new model for a successful economy which will be hard to digest for most, but it or something like it will be important if our grandkids are to enjoy a liveable world.

If you participate in our economy, I hope you watch this video.

And because I’m not an economic expert, I also hope you’ll comment on this with your thoughts. I have much to learn in the area of sustainable economics, and hope that those smarter than I will help me grapple toward a nuanced understanding.

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